Escape from L.A. (1996)

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Released 10-Aug-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 96:33 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Carpenter
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Kurt Russell
Stacy Keach
Steve Buscemi
Peter Fonda
George Corraface
Cliff Robertson
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $39.95 Music Shirley Walker
John Carpenter


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Greek
English
Spanish
French
Hebrew
Croatian
Italian
Portuguese
Slovenian
Smoking Yes, Major characters all smoke
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Universal Studios and Disneyland
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I'm a big John Carpenter fan.  Always have been. There are only two of his films that I haven't seen, and this was one of them (the other being Big Trouble in Little China). Additionally, I recently had the opportunity to watch the Region 1 DVD of Escape from New York. So, needless to say, I was primed and ready for this movie!

    I'm happy to report that I wasn't disappointed. Apart from some slightly distracting Tron-like CGI visual effects, this was a really great film. I haven't had the pleasure of discovering a new John Carpenter film for quite a while. Half the fun of watching this movie is trying to spot all the Los Angeles in-jokes. These jokes made me wish John had taken the opportunity to poke more fun at the big apple in his first film. Snake Plissken's job this time out is to retrieve a doomsday weapon from a post earthquake L.A., now separated from the mainland by ocean and prison walls. From the look of the extras milling about in the background of most scenes, the ability to create large amounts of hair care products seems to be a skill within all L.A. residents' grasp. However, everyone seems to lack the ability to construct or repair buildings for habitation.

    In classic Carpenter style, all of the women on show here are suitably strong and sexy. One curiosity is that they all sport Adrienne Barbeau hair styles that date back to the years when she was married to John Carpenter. Snake Plissken is his old husky-voiced eye-patch-wearin' self.  The 15-odd years between films doesn't seem to have made a dent. Kurt Russell may have this character down pat, but who'd suspect that Snake would have found the time to practice basketball? Pam Grier's 1st appearance is classic, and more than makes up for the fact that she is tragically underused for the remainder of the film. Steve Buscemi basically plays himself - this fact should surprise no one.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.  The overall quality of the transfer is definitely above average, but not reference quality.

    Most of the time, the sharpness of the image is great, and shadow detail is handled nicely. The quality of the shadow detail is admirable given that most of the movie takes place at night or in dark surroundings. I did not observe any problems with low level noise.

    Colour appears accurately presented here. Again, because of the darkness of the film, the colour palette is muted overall.

    There were no visible aliasing problems with this DVD. Some edge enhancement was noticed on a purse strap at 11:19, and at both 111:17 and 124:32. As usual in transfers of some older movies, some telecine wobble can be spotted during the opening credits at 2:24 and 4:53. The biggest disappointment with the video quality on this DVD is the numerous examples of dust visible throughout. Fortunately, this is a dark movie, and in dark scenes, external night-time scenes and darkened room scenes, which comprise at least 80% of the movie, the dust is not distracting at all. During these scenes, your really have to concentrate on the brightest objects on screen to notice the dust. Examples of the dust problem can be found most obviously at 8:50, 31:39, 41:41, 54:58, and 108:09. However, there is one very bad scratch that can be seen running vertically through the skyline at 105:57 for a few seconds.

    There are a total of 9 subtitle options. I only previewed the English subtitles. They appeared accurate for the most part.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 52:23. It takes place during a slight pause between scenes. As there is no music or environmental sound during the layer change, the pause is not distracting.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     This is a very good audio transfer, and generally supports the film quite nicely.

    There are four audio tracks available, English, Spanish, French, and Italian. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. All language tracks appeared to handle the music, dialogue and Foley sound in a similar fashion.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand, even during the action sequences. 

    The were no audio sync problems observed.

    John Carpenter's music always sounds good when presented in a 5.1 digital mix. Breaking from John Carpenter's usual practice of scoring his own films exclusively with his music, this film contains some great tracks from bands like Sugar Ray, Tool, Tori Amos, Butthole Surfers, Dick Dale, and White Zombie. All music in this movie employed the surrounds constantly to great effect.

    Foley sound was confined to the front field, but had a wide presentation.  Most gunshots can briefly be heard echoing from the rear speakers.

    The subwoofer was adequately put through its paces during explosions, and other action sequences. Nothing to write home about, but nothing noticeably lacking either.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    As usual for a Paramount DVD, extras seem to be an afterthought with no significant priority. Here we are treated to a theatrical trailer.

Menu

    The menu is a still graphic copy of the DVD cover. There is no sound or music offered, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    The trailer is of slightly lower quality than the movie, and is presented at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced and is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded. Its length is 1:25. There is a minor spoiler in the trailer that is better seen in the context of the film. This is one of the better laughs, and, in my opinion, should not have been trotted out as a drawcard to get bums on seats by the marketing department.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 4 version of this DVD is the preferred version because it is 16x9 enhanced.

Summary

    It was really great to see Snake Plissken in action again in Escape from L.A.

    The video quality is definitely acceptable, but not reference quality.

    The audio quality supported the film adequately, with John Carpenter's music in Dolby 5.1 Surround being the highlight.

    The extras offered were disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Jeff Montgomery (Bio)
Friday, September 07, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-C670P, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, displayed on a flat white wall. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR DE-845
SpeakersFront - Teac LS-S1000F, Centre - Teac LS-C1000, Rears -Teac LS S1000R, Subwoofer - Teac LS-W1000 (passive)

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